Lith. “mirti” / Latv. “mirt” ‘to die’ and Lith. “miršti” / Latv. “mirst” ‘to forget’ in East Baltic

  • Yoko Yamazaki
Keywords: Baltic verbs, aspect, “mirti”, “miršti”, ā-preterit, ē-preterit, historical morphology, aorist, imperfect


    The verbs Lith. miti / Latv. mirt ‘to die’ and Lith. (-)mišti / Latv. (-)mrst ‘to forget’ share several features in historical morphology: both take sta-present stem, in spite of their Indo-European cognates in the *-ye/o- present stem; the root-aorist in the middle voice inflection can be reconstructed in PIE; and both are also semantically middle. However, they are contrastive in the past tense in Baltic, taking different preterit stems, i.e., Lith. mrė / Latv. miru(ē) and Lith. mišo / Latv. mrsu(ā). This article will investigate what led them to choose the different preterit stems by comparing their semantic and phonological properties, and will contribute to the reconstruction of the entire prehistory of the Baltic preterit system. In this article, it will be proposed that Lith. mrė / Latv. miru(ē) is probably descended from the older imperfect, while its aoristic nature led Lith. mišo / Latv. mrsu(ā) to inherit the older aorist stem, and this historical difference may be reflected in their different preterit stems.